basketball Edit

Nate Oats responds to Jay Williams' knock on Coleman Coliseum crowd

ESPN broadcasters Jay Williams (left) and Jon Sciambi (right). Photo | ESPN broadcast
ESPN broadcasters Jay Williams (left) and Jon Sciambi (right). Photo | ESPN broadcast

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball fans inside Coleman Coliseum started making way for the exits with a little less than two minutes remaining in the Crimson Tide’s eventual 85-77 loss to Clemson on Tuesday night. It was one of the few times they were on their feet all night.

By the time the final buzzer sounded in the disappointing loss, the home crowd had dwindled to less than 25% capacity. That being said, outside of the spirited student section, the announced 10,725 in attendance provided a somewhat sterile atmosphere for most of the game.

So much so that it drew criticism from television analyst Jay Williams, who called out the Coleman Coliseum crowd during ESPN’s broadcast of the game.

“What’s the point of playing at home if you’re not going to have homecourt advantage?” Williams asked on air. “Like this doesn’t feel like a homecourt advantage at all for Alabama. The place is not packed. The fans don’t seem to be engaged. This seems to be more like a tennis match.”

When asked about the atmosphere after the game, Alabama head coach Nate Oats admitted there were times when the crowd was a little quiet. However, he said a lot of that had to do with how his team played on the night.

“The crowd was great at times,” said Oats, who began his postgame press conference by praising Alabama’s student section. “We’ve got to give them something to cheer about, to be honest, to be honest you. Like come out and [let them] go on a 13-0 run, and they’re gonna get quiet. We need the crowd to cheer us on to some stops, but we also need our players to make some plays to get the crowd into it sometimes, too.”

The 13-0 run Oats is referring to occurred during a roughly three-minute stretch in the second half when Alabama allowed Clemson to turn a 7-point deficit into a 6-point lead. During the run, the Tigers shot 4 of 5 from the floor and outrebounded the Crimson Tide 3-1, including an offensive board that led to a 3-pointer from Joseph Girard III that put Clemson up 59-53 with 10:09 to play.

“We don’t have enough defensive pride right now to get stops,” Oats said. “After the timeout, they go on a 13-0 run… We got to get some defensive pride about us, all of us,” Oats said after the game. “Those guards coming off the screens, we’re not into the ball enough, we’re not up into it.”

It’s worth noting that Tuesday’s game tipped off at 8:30 p.m., a late night for the working crowd. Oats also noted that there were times when the fans did a good job showing their support. One of those came in the first half when forward Grant Nelson dove on the floor to keep a drive alive in what resulted in an Alabama bucket.

“There’s hustle plays, blue-collar plays, toughness plays,” Oats said. “When you give up multiple offensive rebounds in one possession, it’s deflating. It’s deflating to the coaching staff. It’s deflating to the crowd. The crowd gets a little upset with the lack of effort, as they should. We’ve got to do a better job of making those tough effort plays that the crowd appreciates around here, and I think the crowd will get into it a little more.”

Alabama (5-2) will have an opportunity to put up a better showing for its home crowd next Monday when it welcomes Arkansas State for a 7 p.m. CT tipoff inside Coleman Coliseum.